Our Whippets Diet
All of our dogs are fed a complete balanced raw diet, we feed quite a complex diet to ensure that our dogs are getting adequate nutrients.
A dogs digestive system is built for digesting and absorbing nutrients from meat and animal products, they have a very small cecum, which is the part of the gut that digests food via bacterial digestion, which is how plant matter is digested, and because dogs have a small cecum, digestion of plant matter is limited and the absorption of nutrients is low.
I have done a lot of research in raw diets myself, and being a vet nurse, I know a lot about the dogs digestive system and how it works.
Manufactured dog food diets including wet food and dry, are a grain and vegetable based diet, now although these ingredients are high in nutritional value when they go through the nutrition testing, therefore making the food nutritionally balanced on the bag, manufacturers are not taking into consideration the indigestible nutrients, making the diet completely inadequate for dogs, who cannot digest a lot of these ingredients and are therefore not receiving adequate nutrients.
Dogs are facultative carnivores, meaning they thrive off of a sole prey animal diet, however unlike cats and ferrets, who are obligate carnivores, they do have a larger (but still small) cecum, making them capable of absorbing a small amount of nutrients from plant matter.
Raw fed dogs will drink less water, as meat has a high water content, and they will also defecate a lot less and their stool will have a lot less odor! As raw diets are nutritionally packed, the dogs are absorbing a lot more and producing far less waste product, it is normal for a raw fed dog to only defecate one or two small stools a day! If you have ever smelt a kibble fed dogs feces, you will never look back once you start raw feeding! The change is instant!
The biggest key point with raw feeding is variety! You need to ensure you are feeding a variety of different species and cuts of meat, as every part of an animal has different nutritional values, I'm not just talking about the difference between heart and lung, both considered meat and both completely different nutritional values, but also the difference between loin and thigh muscle meat as examples, they are both different cuts of meat with different values in them, so switching up the cuts of meat is preferable.
The best way to make a diet balanced, and to ensure your dogs are getting every different part of an animal, is to feed whole prey! Now of course this is not for everyone and don't feel ashamed if you cant stomach feeding whole prey to your dog.
Prey animals are balanced as a whole, with the guts, fur and everything intact, your dog is getting almost everything it needs out of one meal, you still need to feed a variety of different species as every species has something it lacks in or is high in, you also need to take into consideration the fat content in the whole animal, wild caught prey is usually low in fat for the majority of the year and therefore you will need to add fat to the meal, lamb flaps are great for this as they are high in fat content.
Dogs need fat in the diet to store some nutrients and help regulate hormones within the body.
Whole prey is very easy to access in pet stores, most stores stock plenty of rats, mice, chicks, quail, rabbits and guinea pigs.
The guts in whole prey are great to feed as the contents of the stomach and gut are already somewhat digested, making the nutrients more readily available for your dog and providing different nutrients.
Don't leave out the fur! Fur is great for your dogs to eat, it helps firm up the stools and eliminates gasses in the system, as well as being great sources of collagen, elastin, keratin and melanin.
The meat and bone percentage will change based on what bone you are feeding, if you are feeding bones from poultry, birds or young animals, you will need to up the bone content to 35%, and lower the meat to 65%, other bone you will feed at 10% and the meat at 80%
Meat - 65-80%
Rabbit - Rabbit makes up a large portion of my own dogs and ferrets diet, all of the rabbit we feed is ethically hunting by us, our ferrets and our dogs.
We feed rabbit as a whole prey meal, with the fur, head, feet, guts all intact, rabbit is great lean 'neutral' protein meat, it is low in fat and therefore feeding fatter meats with it is best.
Venison - The venison we mainly feed is out of wild deer, ethically hunted here in SA.
Venison is a healthy lean meat that is lower in fat than other meats
Venison is considered a 'heating' protein, so for dogs with food allergies, prone to hotspots, skin irritations and inflammation, keep to a minimum in the diet.
Lamb - Lamb is a great fatty meat, good to feed alongside the leaner meats to ensure adequate fat content in the diet.
Lamb is considered a 'heating' protein, so for dogs with food allergies, prone to hotspots, skin irritations and inflammation, keep to a minimum in the diet.
Beef - Beef is another good source of fat so is good to pair with leaner meats
Beef is considered a 'neutral' protein so is a good base for your dogs diet
Kangaroo - The kangaroo we mainly feed is out of wild kangaroo, ethically hunted here in SA.
Kangaroo is a lean meat, low in fat, so is good to mix with some fattier meats to balance it out, it is a nice dark meat, high in taurine, so a very good meat to have in the diet!
Kangaroo is considered a 'heating' protein to some and a 'cooling' protein to others, so if your dog is normally prone to food allergies, hotspots, skin irritations and inflammation, try it at small portions at a time to see how they react.
Chicken - We used to raise a lot of chickens ourselves for our food and for the dogs, and will do so again in the future when we move back to a move suitable property.
Chicken from the supermarket is a specific hybrid breed of chicken, these chicks grow at a rapid pace and are butcher for consumption between 8-12 weeks of age, therefore chicken is low in nutrients as it is a young animal, so keeping chicken to a minimum is best.
Chicken is considered a 'heating' protein, so for dogs with food allergies, prone to hotspots, skin irritations and inflammation, keep to a minimum in the diet.
Heart - Heart is full of protein, iron and B vitamins, fat but most importantly taurine! which is a vital nutrient for your dogs heart. It is also important to feed the heart of several different species as the nutrient values will be different from species to species, chicken heart is especially low as mentioned above, chickens are butchered at a young age.
Heart is classed as meat and NOT as offal.
Tongue - Tongue is not a necessity to feed to your dogs, but it's always best to add in as many different parts of an animal to your dogs diet as you can, tongue is a great source of fatty acids, zinc, iron, choline, and vitamin B12.
Lung - Lung is a good source of Riboflavin, Pantothenic Acid, Potassium, Zinc and Copper, and a very good source of Protein, Vitamin C, Niacin, Vitamin B12, Iron, Phosphorus and Selenium.
Eyes - Eyes are extremely rich in retinol, the bioavailable form of vitamin A and other powerful anti-oxidants, which are great for your dogs eyes too!
Raw Meaty Bones - 10-35%
We only feed poultry and fish bones to young puppies due to the soft nature of the bones, bones from larger species are too hard on their teeth.
Older dogs get a variety of bones from poultry, fish, lamb, kangaroo, venison and beef, we do not feed any weight barring or large bones to our dogs, only bones that are able to be crushed and eaten are to be fed as bones too hard will file down and even crack your dogs teeth.
Poultry, bird and bones of young animals have a lowered calcium percentage than other species so a higher quantity of 35% is necessary to meet the calcium requirements, if you are feeding other bones, keep the bone content to 10%, making sure you are discounting the meat that is covering the bone (eg a chicken neck is 60% bone and 40% meat).
Offal - 10%
Offal is where it gets a bit more complex, 50% of offal (5% of total diet) must be liver, offal is a vital part of your dogs diet, it is very important to feed a wide variety of offal, not only of different species, but also different systems.
Offal is rich in Vitamin A, which is vital for prevention of birth defects, prevention of infection, hormone production, optimal thyroid function, good digestion, good vision, and healthy bones and blood. Without it, the body cannot utilize protein, minerals and water-soluble vitamins. Vitamin A is also an antioxidant that helps protect your dog from pollutants, free radicals, and cancer.
Liver - Liver is rich in many different vitamins and fatty acids including vitamin A, E, K, B (B1, B2, B5, B6, B12), choline, biotin, omega 3 and 6, folacin and selenium.
Feeding liver promotes a healthy digestive system and the coat, as well as essential vitamin content needed to sustain health overall. Not only that, feeding liver can help with your dog’s temperament. You’re not you when you’re hungry, as the Snicker’s commercials say, so why would your dog be himself if he isn’t getting the essential nutrients he needs?
Kidney - Kidney is next in line when it comes to importance of feeding. Like liver, kidneys provide a wide range of vitamins, including vitamin A, E, K, B12, iron and zinc.
Kidney provides some similar benefits as liver, but with the added benefit of vitamins like zinc and iron. Kidney is also a great source of essential fatty acids which can help maintain a healthy skin and coat, and digestive system.
Sweatbreads (glands) and Spleen - Another vital part of a dogs diet.
These glands are rich in trace minerals such as zinc and selenium which are key for hormonal function and immunity. They are rich in protein and omega 3 fatty acids that help reduce inflammation in the body.
Brain - The brain is by far the richest source of omega-3 fatty acids, it is also rich in anti-oxidants such as carnosine, carotenoids and tocopherols which protect neurological tissue from oxidative stress. It is also extremely rich in cholesterol which is another protective anti-oxidant for neurological tissue and helps to optimize hormonal function.